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Kawasaki’s 2016 ZX-10R Will be an Evolution Not a Revolution

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The basic package offered by the current Kawasaki ZX-10R superbike is just fine … more than fine.  Introduced for the 2011 model year, Kawasaki won the WSB championship in 2013 with Tom Sykes aboard this machine, and Jonathan Rea is dominating the current WSB season on it.

Perhaps wisely, Kawasaki chose to refine the current ZX-10R rather than completely replace it. Changes to the cowling shape, new suspension and upgraded brakes top the list of changes, together with improved engine performance and the addition of “new, state of the art rider aids”.  With the incredible new Yamaha R1 setting the pace, we are about to see Kawasaki’s response. Here is the press release from Kawasaki:

A dominant force in the World Superbike Championship. Kawasaki is set to continue the development of the highly successful road going Ninja ZX-10R concept with the imminent unveiling of a new model featuring a host of updates influenced by the Kawasaki Racing Team.

Possessing a direct link to the Superbike that Tom Sykes successfully campaigned to secure the 2013 WSBK Championship so convincingly, and that was subsequently honed to take Jonathan Rea to such success in the current season, the new litre class Ninja displays only some of its many changes on the surface – such as subtle yet highly effective changes to the cowling shape – with others only becoming apparent as you get closer to the thoroughbred machine; the most obvious of these being a comprehensive upgrade of the suspension components and the adoption of a premium grade braking system.

Appropriate then that the marketing campaign tag-line for the new machine is “Get Closer” and, very soon, invited journalists from around the globe will see the 2016 Ninja ZX-10R up close and personal for the very first time in October at an exclusive media launch hosted alongside the Kawasaki Racing Team in Barcelona, Spain.

“This is not a “clean sheet” design as the current Ninja ZX-10R is such a good base to develop from”, commented Project Leader for KHI, Yoshimoto Matsuda.

“With the new model we have focussed our development resources on an overall engineering and performance improvement. We are proud of the result; it means a significant advance in terms of both chassis and engine performance as well as providing the platform to introduce new, state of the art rider aids and other technology.

“The input the KHI development team has received from the Kawasaki Racing Team, and riders, Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes has created what we are sure many will feel is the most competitive and potent Ninja ZX-10R yet. A motorcycle equally at home on the race track or as a highly responsive daily riding road machine.”

56 Comments

  1. Kagato says:

    nice bike, but still no match for a HYOSUNG!

  2. Frank says:

    Hey Matt,

    Looks like a lot of people here don’t know how to disagree and be polite at the same time. Truth is, nobody needs more than 100 HP in a 400-500lb street bike…BUT,if you could have the girl of your dreams, the car of your dreams, or anything of your dreams, (assuming you don’t have them already), ya think ya might be interested?

    Ya, thought so. That’s all everyone’s saying.

  3. Joe says:

    Thought Kawasaki would do a clean sheet redesign but it appears they won’t touch basic engine architecture .
    The typical path to more power has been greater bore to stroke ratio with an increased rpm ceiling . But if racing success means sales success it’s hard to argue with just tweaking the overall package..
    Still it’s always great to see a new from the ground up approach.
    Guess that will have to wait a couple more years.

    • Chris says:

      “The typical path to more power has been greater bore to stroke ratio with an increased rpm ceiling ”

      Shhhh… There is someone on this board that will tell you that a larger bore to stroke ratio has nothing to do with a higher rpm ceiling.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Yeh, that was probably me… because it doesn’t all else equal. There are two ways to increase the bore-stroke ratio: increase the bore for a given stroke, or decrease the stroke for a given bore. The former does nothing to raise the rpm ceiling. The latter does.

        • Chris says:

          You’ve just made things un-equal by making a larger (over-bore w/ same stroke) and smaller (same bore w/ shorter stroke) engines. Kawasaki does plan on racing the bike.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            I don’t know what you mean by that.

            If you have a bore of 60mm and a stroke of 60 mm. The ratio is 1:1.

            If you increase the bore to 90mm and leave the stroke at 60mm, the ratio increase to 1.5:1. You have done nothing to increase the rev ceiling.

            If you reduce the stroke to 40mm and leave the bore at 60mm, the ratio increases to 1.5:1. Because of the shorter stroke, this configuration is capable of revving to a higher rpm. To maintain a given displacement, bore would also be increased in this case making the ratio even more over-sqare.

            The fact that the ratio increased in the latter case is purely mathematical. It is the shorter stroke that allows higher revving. Maybe that is what you were trying to say all along and we just failed to communicate.

  4. Norm G. says:

    re: “This is not a “clean sheet” design as the current Ninja ZX-10R is such a good base to develop from”, commented Project Leader for KHI, Yoshimoto Matsuda.”

    translation: don’t fix what isn’t broken. (Kanji writing)

    • Neil says:

      We can always count on you, Norm, for the basic Wisdom of the thing and I wholeheartedly agree. As Charlie Sheen said, WINNING!

  5. Pacer says:

    While the new R1 os not the most powerful in stock form, it is my understanding that a slip-on and dyno tune/upgraded map adds about 20hp. Still not king of the horsepower hill, but on the hill just the same.

  6. matt says:

    99% of these never even get to the gate of a track parking lot. HP and other exotic performance figures is just masturbation by journos and public with nothing better to do. Same for 3, 4, 500HP Corvettes, BMW, Porche etc. They are toys of the rich or credit worthy. Nobody needs more than 60HP no matter how impractical your on-street scenarios. Racing is different because it’s just global, group masturbation of the socially acceptable flavor.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Need? Since when did “need” ever enter into the equation? We are talking about motorcycles, not the global food supply.

      • Blackcayman says:

        Is there no end to the idiocy of claiming “no one needs more than “60” HP”…

        Matt, Isn’t there an EX500 or CB350 web page were you could find a lot of agreement for your claims?

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          I know. It is tiring. I wonder if guys like this really believe their drivel or if they just do this to bait us. Matt is probably sitting there laughing at us as we take to the key boards, blood pressures rising. This must be how Buell fanatics feel. I’ll need to be more sensitive to them in the future.

        • guu says:

          I don’t need more than 60 hp on a motocross bike, since nobody else has (much) more than 60 hp either.

    • Butch says:

      Nothing wrong with “strutin’ yer’ stuff” if you have the ways and means, disposable income.
      After all, a large part of our economy is based on impressing total strangers.
      Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
      I just get a rush riding my CL450.
      Don’t need no frackin’ audience.

    • TF says:

      That didn’t take long!

      Nobody NEEDS a motorcycle. If you want a motorcycle but don’t want to masturbate, Kawasaki has plenty of 300 Ninjas for you. In fact, craigslist has plenty of gently used 300 Ninjas for you.

      • rg500g says:

        Now, if you wish to own a motorcycle AND engage in onanistic behavior, might I recommend a gently used ZX-14 and your choice of instrument from kanojotoys.com. Appropriate accessories to enhance the experience wold be a nitrous kit (be sure to befriend a dentist), and some time invested in plumbing a mask off of the nitrous bottle valve solenoid as well as wiring the ‘instrument’ to the solenoid as well. Ah, that’s the rush when the nitrous kicks in! KIMOOCHEY!

    • DaveA says:

      Dear Matt;

      1969 called, and they want their commentary about motorcycle performance back.

      They can have it too, since it was as inane then as it is now. “Need” has nothing to do with anything. Nobody needs a motorcycle. Or a car. Or a house, or a cell phone, or anything to drink besides water. We “need” food, shelter from the elements, and water. That’s it. So I guess every product that exists that isn’t a lean-to, a fur cloak, a deer liver, or water should be roundly ignored by everyone.

      Thanks for the insightful commentary.

      Sincerely,
      Everyone who has read “nobody needs that much power” since the CB750 was released, ever

    • Hot Dog says:

      You don’t sell them what they need, you sell them what they want.

    • Colors says:

      While reading this I could swear I heard the Anthem of the Soviet Union playing softly in the background.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Might just be the loudspeakers from Triumph HQ in Hinckley during the morning employee loyalty meeting you are hearing.

        Sorry… I am playing off of a comment from a totally different MD article. This probably won’t make sense to anyone. 🙂 Ah, well… I owed Asphanaut a stupid comment anyway.

    • The Spaceman says:

      It seems like you have something against masturbation.

    • NRHRetro says:

      Let’s see,

      NEEDS: Oxygen, Food, Water, Shelter, (shelter can be optional depending on climate). I think that’s about it, everything else is a luxury.

      Did I leave anything out?

  7. xLaYN says:

    Question, for those who agree with this statement: “With the incredible new Yamaha R1 setting the pace, we are about to see Kawasaki’s response”, why the R1 gets so much attention when the BMW it’s the actual king on HP? and it has been for a long time.
    http://www.motorcyclistonline.com/2015-superbike-test-comparison-shootout-drag-race-bmw-s1000rr-vs-ducati-1299-panigale-s-vs-yamaha
    same dyno, same day, same conditions…. and BMW it’s more powerful by almost 20hp, which translated to also the best time (as per this video, with those testers)… if you see the video it (the bmw) leaves the R1 at the start at it never catches up.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Horsepower alone does not a king make. As far as engines go, the BMW has been making everyone look slow since it came out. I’m not sure even the new Panigale with a 30% displacement advantage dynos as strongly as the BMW. But these bikes weren’t designed for drag racing. They were made for going around a race track, and every comparison review I remember has the R1 going around faster than everyone else despite giving up quite a bit of power to the BMW. The R1’s chassis and electronics package apparently make it the bike to beat right now.

      • xLaYN says:

        seems like you were on the “moderation” zone.
        “Horsepower alone does not a king make” but horsepower it’s the main character on the trust forward movie.
        “But these bikes weren’t designed for drag racing”, that is very true.
        “and every comparison review I remember has the R1 going around faster”, so are the results for my “googling” around, so considering all previously said… what are the odds that it’s not anymore about raw power, that we already hit the ceiling, and it became about how it handles?
        I would be amazing to put Rossi (somehow without him knowing, or how to tell apart) in the S1000RR, and the Yami to see the results.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          “what are the odds that it’s not anymore about raw power”

          I don’t think it has ever been about raw power for this market segment. Power is very important of course, but in today’s battle field, the key is in controlling that power. The BMW may make more of it, but the Yamaha allows the rider to put what it has to use more effectively, for the time being, anyway. I doubt BMW is going to sit on its laurels and concede the crown without a fight.

          • xLaYN says:

            Agree,

            On a totally off topic note, I have another doubt (and this is asking for your opinion (unless you work for BMW and you can give us some juicy news)): why do you think BMW doesn’t make a S600RR? cannibalization of other products on it’s own line?

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            My opinion, for what it is worth, is that BMW isn’t interested in the 600cc market because:

            1) The S1000RR is a halo model for the mark – an advertisement of what BMW is capable of as opposed to just another product offering competing for consumer dollars. There wouldn’t be any point in making a lesser, Halo Jr.

            and

            2) The 600cc market segment is in the dumps and has been for a while (though Yamaha still manages to sell a ton of R6s somehow.) I am not sure that segment will ever come back. And since BMW is not serious about motorcycle racing, it hardly makes sense for them to make a 600cc just for the heck of it.

          • xLaYN says:

            Jeremy, thanks for the time spent on responses.
            Funny that (if true) a brand with no serious race intention accomplish so much.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            “Funny that (if true) a brand with no serious race intention accomplish so much.”

            Yes, I think BMW really wanted to change their image from that “adequate bikes for gentleman” aura they used to give off into something that really resonated with other demographics. I understand the BMW’s “M” division for their autos did quite a bit of work on the S1000RR. If that is true, then a lot of race knowledge went into the design of the engine at least.

            There was an interesting article in one of the major US print mags some time ago with some dialog with either the General Manager or the project lead for the S1000RR (don’t remember which) concerning the project goals and determination that went into bringing the S1000RR to market. It is a very interesting read if you can dig it up.

      • MGNorge says:

        Keeping in mind that horsepower has always be the great comparative in bars, taverns, living rooms, dens, back porches….wherever people convene. If everything else is deemed the same then an engine that produces even a fraction of more power will take home the crown. That’s something that I think Kawasaki, for example, knows and follows very closely as a brand. If nothing else, you can expect most of their bikes to one-up the competition in horsepower numbers.
        Anyone who’s been around awhile knows that there’s much more that makes the whole but for marketing and sales reasons people still debate bikes mostly on horsepower production.

    • Dave says:

      My guess is, “With the incredible new Yamaha R1 setting the pace, we are about to see Kawasaki’s response” is not a statement covering horsepower alone.

      Most of what I’ve read agrees that the R1 is the best superbike available right now, regardless of peak hp.

      • MGNorge says:

        Plus the R1 may have a greater audience when it comes to worldwide sales? Or in other words, Kawasaki may feel the R1 is its greatest sales competitor?

    • Norm G. says:

      Q: for those who agree with this statement: “With the incredible new Yamaha R1 setting the pace, we are about to see Kawasaki’s response”, why the R1 gets so much attention when the BMW it’s the actual king on HP?

      A: VALENTINO ROSSI.

    • Auphliam says:

      I believe that statement is written in the context of the quote that precedes it – “new, state of the art rider aids” – not claiming the R1 is HP king.

      • xLaYN says:

        Although there is no direct implication I do also think the electronics are the actual reason for R1 to get such good results.
        I brought the topic up to see if we could get to the point of “we do have more hp than we can handle”; we somehow did, it’s –my opinion– that this “Aids” are there because we cannot handle anymore those machines (with the exception of that extremely talented 1%).

        “Remember how I had no actual use for 5th or 6th gear on the street? Same goes for the track”
        MD review on the new R1
        http://www.motorcycledaily.com/2015/07/2015-yamaha-fzf-r1-md-ride-review/

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against those incredible packages being built by Yamaha, BMW, Aprillia and others, I would love to “track day” one for a complete weekend.
        And while I see somehow contradictory to want the best when we can’t handle it without Aids, I confess I would like to have those aids while I’m in a corner on the bike and I mentally go over the variables while opening the throttle carefully.

        • xLaYN says:

          Fun fact: the link says FZF R1

        • Auphliam says:

          I was just thinking about that the other night. I am currently shopping for a standard/naked type bike or perhaps a sport tour. In one review I watched on youtube, the gentleman proclaimed why he bought the Speed Triple as opposed to the s1000r or the 1290SD. He said he know’s the Triple is heavier and it’s down on power, but it also has no aids. He knew he could never ride the KTM or BMW without the buttons.